Both Mediterranean diets led to more weight loss and better heart health than standard advice after 6 months. The green Mediterranean diet showed the biggest improvements.
The green Mediterranean diet provided the largest reduction in waist size, blood pressure, bad cholesterol, insulin resistance, inflammation, and liver fat.
The green Mediterranean diet offered the most protection against shrinkage of the hippocampus - the part of the brain important for learning and memory.
Researchers believe the health benefits are due to eating less red and processed meats and more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds from plant foods.
The plant foods providing benefits include fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and whole grains.
Versions of the Mediterranean diet with more plants, fish, olive oil, and whole grains and less meat and dairy lower risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cognitive decline, and other health issues.